Responding to industry concerns, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has clarified its definition of fiduciary activities.
OCC Chief Counsel Julie L. Williams said that a recent rule change was not designed to increase the number of services that are supervised as part of a national bank's trust business.
"We do not intend ... to include lines of business that were not covered under the old regulation," Ms. Williams wrote in a Jan. 28 letter to John H. Huffstutler, senior vice president at Bank of America.
Under a Dec. 30 rule streamlining Part 9 of its rulebook, the OCC defined a fiduciary business as any activity for which "the bank receives a fee for its investment advice."
Industry representatives were concerned that such a broad definition would bring several services under cumbersome new requirements.
But Ms. Williams said the OCC will not regulate investment advice for municipalities, financial advice and counseling, and real estate asset management as fiduciary activities.
"This clarification is extremely helpful in carving out activities which could have been picked up under the revised Part 9 rule," said Charles M. Horn, a partner with the Washington law firm Mayer, Brown & Platt.